MONTREAL (May. 23)
In an apparent response to concern about racism and neo-Nazism in the Canadian military, the army charged two soldiers with the murder and torture of a Somali civilian committed with racist motives.
Two Canadian soldiers with the U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia — Master Cpl. Clayton Matchee, 27, of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, and Pvt. Elvin Brown, 24, of Edmonton, Alberta — were charged with second-degree murder and torture of the Somali man.
Two other soldiers were charged with torture and negligent performance of duties, and an investigation is under way to determine if a third soldier had any involvement in the March 16 incident.
The Somali civilian, Shidane Abukar Arone, was killed after he attempted to enter the Canadian base at Belet Huen, 186 miles north of Mogadishu.
The charges follow reports in the media that neo-Nazis have infiltrated the Canadian army.
One member of the Canadian peacekeeping force in Somalia, Cpl. Matt McKay, had posed for a photograph standing under a swastika wearing an Adolf Hitler T-shirt and giving the Nazi salute.
The photo was published last year in a Winnipeg, Manitoba, newspaper.
Other allegations of neo-Nazi involvement in the army were made recently on a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. television news program.
The charges announced against the soldiers are the first charges of torture and murder leveled against members of Canada’s peacekeeping force in its 46-year history.
“These are the most serious charges ever laid in Canadian military operations with the U.N.,” said the judge advocate-general for the Canadian armed forces, Brig. Gen. Pierre Boutet.
Following his arrest on suspicion of murder, Matchee was found hanging in an apparent suicide attempt, but was rescued.
He is hospitalized in serious condition.